Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Curiosity is a motivating factor in life.  Observing events around you can trigger different questions: “Wow!  How can that be?” or “Why did that happen?”  This is where we’re at in our collaborative efforts at YME with science, art, and agriculture coming together to create Raku pottery.

On my end in 7th-8th grade Earth Science, I’m using a two-pronged approach: 1) introducing students to the ever-changing rock cyle processes & products, and 2) emphasizing the fun in inquiry.  It is during our lessons on the rock cycle that students observe the chemical and physical properties of different rocks, based on how they were formed.  They see how sedimentary rock can become clay as erosion and compression of sediment change broken fragments of rock.  The inquiry process is much broader for them.  I am giving the students opportunities in the lab setting to hypothesize (how many drops of water can a penny hold?), experiment, explain their results - especially if it’s not what they expected, and reflect on other possibilities (so what about cooking oil? or if I coat the penny in soap first?).  

The inquiry approach will be most evident as the students use test tiles when forming a glaze for their pottery.  After making initial observations, students will predict an expected glaze outcome for their Raku cup.  Many times this is when students ask, “Is this right?” especially when doing something for the first time.  My response is, “Tell me what you did to get here.”  This encourages inquiry and provides students the opportunity for reflective practice.  It also shows them that sometimes there is not one correct answer to a question.

As the students build and learn about the inner-workings of a Raku kiln… as they create “life” from their lumps of clay… inquiring minds will be sorting and meshing and creating new information that may not answer their initial questions of curiosity.  Instead it may just open the door to the reality that life is always changing; and even in science, it’s ok to not always know the answer.

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